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Hear The Beat Of The Coral Gables Senior Center Drum Circles

CW Griffin
Miami Herald staff

At the Sunday afternoon drum and sing-along class at The Palace in Coral Gables, music is the great healer. It eases niggling worries, soothes aching joints, mends grieving hearts, restores fickle memory.

“Music takes you to a good place,” says instructor Michael Cloyes, owner of Servant Response Entertainment.“It brings back happy memories, happy times. Who doesn’t like to sing?”

Apparently no one. The Lake Worth resident offers his one-hour drumming/singing/music trivia program at retirement communities around South Florida from Miami to Fort Pierce and west to Pahokee. But better than a chance to play drums or name that tune, Cloyes offers retirees something more valuable: a chance to stroll down memory lane without the eye-rolling impatience of those who don’t understand how a few notes can make the burdens of old age disappear.

Drum circles are usually held in public places — beaches, parks and festivals — and aren’t constrained by skill or talent or musical education. A similar concept has now hit the world of senior centers, retirement homes and assisted living facilities. And while the jam sessions are probably shorter and more informal when offered to seniors, the objectives are similar: to build community and foster feelings of well-being. The extra bonus for seniors is that drumming improves balance and coordination.

Plus, it’s fun.

“Everybody at one point or another in their life has wanted to play drums,” Cloyes says, “but had parents who said no. They didn’t want all the noise and the banging.”

At The Palace on a recent Sunday, Cloyes, 52, begins with a quick lesson on how to hold drumsticks and how to coax different sounds from the instrument. There’s only one rule, he tells the class: “Don’t hit anybody with your drumsticks.” Apparently even among the more mature crowd, a student or two can get frisky.

Read more at MiamiHerald.com and hear the audio version of this story here: